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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 01, 2017

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Submitted: May 01, 2017





Hey, Andrew!”


Andrew Mason kept his head down, eyes fixed firmly on the floor. Even with all the chatter that was going on in the corridor, he recognized that voice. Barrett, the bane of his daily college life.


Andrew! Mason, I’m talking to you!”


All the chatter seemed to die down. Andrew knew why. They were waiting, all anticipating Barrett’s next move. There was no doubt in his mind that there would be more to come. Why did his locker have to be so far down the corridor? To not carry on would scream of weakness, and Barrett, becoming drunk on success, would only end up taking things further. Still looking downwards, Andrew carried on putting one foot in front of the other.


He heard the gasp that travelled towards him, he heard the rushing of air, and then Andrew felt the thud against the back of his head. It was hard, hard enough to make him stumble forward. The soccer ball rolled along the corridor, now in front rather than behind him. He watched it roll further and further, coming to a halt almost level with the bank of lockers.


Barrett had not made things physical before. It had always stopped at taunting, at taking his stuff, at wrecking his work. He’d let it go, not fought back. He’d tried theignore it and it will stop’ approach. Obviously, it had not worked. Andrew became aware of the sniggers, the laughter. Nearly everyone in the hallway seemed to be finding this all so amusing. He could not just walk on and let it go this time. Not with so many onlookers!


Andrew turned and faced Barrett. Cody and Todd stood either side of him, like his bodyguards, his back-up team, which in a way was exactly what they were. Barrett never travelled alone, either in college or out. If he had of done he might have been taught a lesson before now, Andrew thought. How was he supposed to take the three of them on single-handedly? That, after all, is what it was going to come down to.


Hey, Andrew, my boy! How ya doin’ today?” Barrett was sneering, swaggering, egging Andrew on to just make his move.


The corridor was again quiet. The sniggering had given way to whispers. Barrett had his audience and he just lapped up all the attention. As Andrew started to walk towards him he beckoned him forwards. “Come on then, Andy, boy! Bring it on!”


For all the world, Andrew wanted to walk away, to run and hide. Even though he was starting to see red he still knew he had no chance, not against the three of them. Probably not against Barrett alone either. The onlookers were getting restless, waiting to see just what he would do. If they would just leave he might swallow his pride and run, but in front of all these students.......He couldn’t allow himself to back down.


What the hell is your problem, Barrett?” Andrew made himself speak. He hoped his voice sounded more forceful than it did to his own ears.


Hey, guys, look! Andrew Mason is after me! I’m so s-s-s-scared!”


Cody and Todd joined in the act, making it look like their knees were knocking. Some of the laughter was back. The three of them had the watching students eating out of their hands. There was no way they were going to let this go now.


Why don’t you just leave me alone, Barrett? I’ve never done anything to you.” Andrew was finding himself being pushed more and more into a corner. He didn’t want to start a fight he’d never win, but they were still taunting and he had to act. Bracing himself he moved right up in front of Barrett. “What the hell is your problem?”


Before he registered their movement, Cody had hold of one of his arms, Todd had hold of the other. Barrett swung his fist, made contact with Andrew’s jaw at the same moment his mates let go of his arms. Andrew hit the floor hard and stayed there.


Through a haze he made out laughter, mostly from his attackers, but there were a few others joining in. Not so many in the hallway now so some had fled, not wanting to get dragged in or to become guilty by association. The bell sounded along the corridor and the remaining students headed off. Not one stayed to see if he was okay, to offer some assistance.


Andrew lay on the corridor floor for a while. The cool linoleum surface was kind of comforting. The corridor was silent apart from the murmuring of distant voices coming from inside some of the classrooms.


He knew he could not stay there. Sooner or later someone would be sure to wander along and he did not want to be found like this. He sat up, and fighting off the dizziness, the nausea, he got up onto his feet. He gingerly lifted a hand towards his jaw. He could feel it was already swelling. Andrew reached down and picked up his glasses from where they had come to rest. At least they still seemed to be in one piece. He slipped them back on, blinked a few times, trying to clear his eyes.


Just along the corridor there was a water fountain. He pressed it on, let the cold water run over his face before taking a drink, spitting out the blood from his split lip. Andrew walked back and picked up his backpack. He slung it across one shoulder and slowly walked out of the college.


Let Barrett have his victory, he told himself. He did not have the will or the energy for any more confrontations. He’d hang out somewhere for the day, go home at the normal time. He’d explain his injuries away somehow – a sports mishap or something. But Andrew Mason knew he would have to come up with a way of beating Barrett sometime. Just not today.

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